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Jubilation, protest in Osun as Tribunal unseats Adeleke

Former Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, jubilating with All Progressive Congress (APC) members and members of the public as Election Petition Tribunal declared him winner of the July 16 governorship election, at Iragbiji,

• Orders INEC To Issue Certificate Of Return To Oyetola • Adeleke Rejects Verdict, Heads To Appeal Court • APC, Oyetola, Supporters Rejoice As PDP Protest In Osogbo • Tinubu, Akeredolu, Fayemi, Folarin Send Congratulatory Messages

It was a moment of jubilation and anger in Osun State yesterday, as the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo declared former governor Adegboyega Oyetola as the winner of the July 16, 2022, governorship election.

Delivering the majority judgment at the premises of the State High Court in Osogbo, under heavy security, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Tertsea Kume said over-voting marred the election.

He thereby deducted the number of over-voting argued by Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declared that Oyetola scored 314,931 while Ademola gathered 290,266.

According to the tribunal, the grounds of the petition before it were three. They were that Adeleke was not qualified to contest based on his academic qualifications; that Adeleke was not elected by majority of the electorate and that the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission was not in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

Justice Kume said the petitioners challenged the result of the election in 10 local councils, comprising Ede North, Ede South, Egbedore, Ejigbo, Ila, Ilesa West, Irepodun, Obokun, Olorunda and Osogbo wherein 744 polling units recorded over-voting.

Adeleke, in his response on August 23, 2022, denied the allegations levelled against him by the APC and Oyetola, adding that the petitioners pointed the attention of the tribunal to his secondary school certificate, which carries 1981, while Osun State was not in existence then.

Ruling on the forgery, the court said Adeleke’s other qualifications have qualified him to contest for the post of governor.

The tribunal referred to the statement of admission of “seemingly over-voting” made by an INEC official who appeared before the tribunal as respondent’s witness, saying that the defence by the respondents on the over-voting were unreliable, blaming INEC for producing contradictory results.

He stated that it put question mark on the readiness of the Commission to conduct credible election.

Kume said, “The defences of the respondent are clear with fundamental flaws, highly irreconcilable or unreliable. I am capable of defeating the credible evidence tendered by the petitioner in respect of the 744 polling units where over voting has been established.”

The tribunal ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Adeleke and give it to Oyetola.

The tribunal’s judgment read in part: “The defences of the respondents are taint with fundamental flaws, irreconcilable and unreliable, incapable of defeating the credible evidence tendered by the petitioners in respect of the 744 polling units where over voting has been established.

“The inference we hereby draw from the fact established by the evidence and record is that the election conducted on the 16th day of July, 2022, was done in substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and extant regulations.

“Moreover, exhibit BVR has not been withdrawn by the first respondent who made and issued it. The petitioners relied on exhibit BVR in maintaining this petition.

“Similarly, the exhibit tendered by the respondents after exhibit BVR submitted by learned counsel to the petitioners were thought of after the declaration of result on the 17th day of July, 2022.

“The said conduct of the respondents, especially, the first respondent amounts to tampering with official records. The conduct of the first respondent in the said election under consideration has produced multiple accusation report, contrary to votes declaration, to conduct of free, fair and credible elections on the basis of one man or woman with one vote.

“Consequently, to forestall a manipulation of BIVAS machines in the conduct of elections in Nigeria by the first respondent, the presiding officers at the polling units and other key officers of the first respondent should act on the vest won by them.

“During the conduct of elections, an electronic device embedded in a safe vest, which would have helped you to collect data and information transmittable to a server domiciled either to the headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force, NIGCOMSAT, the National Secretary Adviser, independent of the first respondent.

“The data store at the server in any of the said offices will be a resource material for investigation and possible prosecution of any infraction that may occur in the use of the BIVAS in the polling units during the conduct of elections.

“We find as a fact that the voting occurred in the election conducted on the 16th day of July, 2022, in the manner stated in the table in paragraph 6.19 of the petitioner’s final written address already reproduced in this judgment. The duty of this tribunal is to deduct the said invalid votes from the lawful votes of the first petitioner and the first respondent to determine who have the majority of lawful votes at the said election.

“The table produced on page 30 paragraph 7.01 of the petitioner final written address in response to the first respondent final written address on page 17 paragraph 6.21 on the petitioner’s final address shows a graphic demonstration of the lawful votes after the deduction of the said invalid votes cast.

“For the sake of emphasis, the total lawful vote cast for each of the candidates after the said deduction of invalid votes is 314,931 for the first petitioner and 219,666 votes for the second respondent.

“The second respondent did not score a majority of lawful votes cast for the election. The declaration and return is hereby declared as null and void; the second respondent cannot “go low low and buga won” as duly elected governor of Osun state in the election conducted on July 16th 2022, see Kiss Daniel song, Buga.

“Rather, we hereby hold that the first petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes in the said election and is hereby returned as such. The first respondent is hereby directed to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the second respondent and give the first petitioner Certificate of Return as the duly elected governor.”

However, in his minority judgment, one of the judges, P. Ogbuli, disagreed with the majority judgment, saying that there were two BVAS reports and since there were inconsistencies in the two reports presented by both petitioners and respondents, the majority judgment should have considered the results of physical extraction from BVAS, because it is the primary source of data of which the petitioners did not oppose.

Ogbuli therefore dismissed Oyetola’s petition and upheld the victory of Adeleke.

The minority judgment read in part: “It is remarkable to note that the petitioners did not controvert the exhibit RBVR series and the report of physical inspection, that exhibit RWC, they stand unchallenged and I so hold.

“Exhibit RWC is a document made from the time resources which are the machines used on the Election Day. The exhibits on RWC are in existence and were there on the machine on the date of election. Section 64 sub 4,5 and 6 of the Electoral Act recognised BVAS machines itself as a key material to be used in collation of result and in resolution of any dispute arising therefrom.

“The petitioners are not saying that the entries on exhibit RBVM series, which is the machine itself, are not same as the entries in exhibit RWC; their grouse is that since exhibit RWC came from the same first respondent, it will be not be allowed to stand in view of the discrepancies of figures in them via-a-vis the entries.

“In view of the following, I hold that exhibit BVR is a product of inadequacies and cannot be the best evidence for the determination of the accurate number of accredited voters on 16th July 2022 election. The same is true of exhibit RBVR. The best evidence to that regard is RBVL, 1-119 down to RBVL 1-59 used in the polling units under contest and I so hold. Voters register can’t be ruled out.”

In his reaction to the judgment, Adeleke described it as “a miscarriage of justice”, vowing to challenge it at the Court of Appeal.

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